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The Good Wife S05E08: "The Next Month"


After three episodes that have focused largely on the battles between Florrick/Agos and Lockhart/Gardner L.G., it was rather nice that "The Next Month" wasn't overly concerned with the War Between the Firms. Sure, it was there, as Will attempted to woo Natalie (America Ferrera, returning to the show for the first time since Season 2) and her deep-pocketed New York City lobbying firm away from Florrick/Agos before they even had a chance to meet, but it wasn't what propelled the episode forward. Instead, "The Next Month" was a procedural-centric hour in typical Good Wife fashion: It allowed the ripples of the larger conflict to be felt without letting consume the show's characters.

Which is, really, what the show should be aiming for as its new status quo begins to settle in. Not every episode can be directly and aggressively focused on F/A and L.G. being at one another's throats in a mad competition for clients, or undermining one another in court. We need to see keep seeing F/A try to scrape themselves together—do they even have a conference room in that space?—and we need to see Will's attempts to grow the firm, which does involve more than just crushing an ex-partner and former fourth-year associates.

So we ended up with Natalie returning to Chicago, looking for assistance in a case involving an undocumented immigrant. That set off quite a chain of events, including Natalie being exposed to the convoluted nature of the United States' immigration bureaucracy, Robyn proving her worth to the new firm, and, perhaps most entertainingly, Eli being smitten with Natalie all over again and dealing with the problems his crush caused for him.


The case itself consisted mostly of Alicia and Cary running from courtroom to courtroom in an effort to prevent Natalie's Tomas Ruiz from arriving in Mexico, where he would've likely been killed by the cartel leader he was about to testify against in exchange for a S(nitch) Visa, which he needed because he was wrongfully deported by the U.S. government, which actually intended to deport another Tomas Ruiz, but one with a different middle name (phew—got all that?). Of course, since the client Tomas Ruiz didn't have identification or a Social Security Number, there was no way to verify that he was the incorrect Tomas Ruiz.

It was all very Kafkaesque, down to the shifting strategies that Alicia and Cary deployed, from almost getting the AUSA to declare Ruiz a snitch to claiming that as a snitch, Tomas was a prosecuted social group within Mexico, even though, yes, he hadn't had the opportunity to actually be a snitch. Even finding the Tomas Ruiz who should've been deported didn't really help, because turning a bus around for a guy who would've been deported later rather than sooner was just a waste of taxpayer money, even though he was this close to having a visa and on and on and on and on in this ouroboric insanity.


Despite the runaround, I never cared all that much about the case itself. It was entertaining, yes, but I just never felt all that invested in it, and since we never saw F/A meet with Natalie's boss, did the firm even benefit from it? What I did care about was how this case spurred Robyn to do her damnedest to make sure that she wasn't fired. 

I've generally liked Robyn from the start, but she's mostly gotten lucky or had Kalinda there to help out. After having a near-breakdown in front of Kalinda—Jess Weixler gives great sadface—she channeled her former mentor and went to work on winning this case for the firm, a turn that included speaking enigmatically and then walking out to do her thing.

Robyn isn't as smooth of a liar as Kalinda can be—I wouldn't have bought her bond-skipper story—but she redeemed herself by posing as the mother of Other Ruiz's child in front of his current girlfriend in a very fine performance. I'm not sure what to make of the faked bullet calling card, however. It's a very desperate move, though it was also rendered moot. At least her gambit with the Mexican consulate was exactly what Kalinda would've done, even if Kalinda probably would've done it much sooner. But it did help her keep her job, and so she'll be sticking around, despite the firm's lack of investigating.


So if Robyn was trying to be someone else due to Natalie's case, Eli was becoming someone he typically isn't because Natalie was in town. It's been a long while since Alan Cumming has had the opportunity to do a lot of comedy on The Good Wife—remember when he was pratfalling every other episode or reacting to videos of school kids vomiting? Good times!—so watching him stammer, be bashful, and use the word "stomachache" was just far too much fun. As Eli himself noted, this isn't who he is, but he made real efforts to make sure Natalie knew he wanted something to happen between them so as not to miss out on the opportunity again.

Of course, that effort included having Peter attend a previously backed out of speech about redistricting in front of a minority voters group after seeing that Natalie was dismayed about the cancellation. I'm not entirely clear on why Marilyn cared about this before seeing Eli talk to and recognize Natalie, but whatever, I'm not entirely clear on Marilyn anyway. (I really hope she has this baby soon.) Marilyn's concerns did lead to Eli and Peter having a talk about his motivations, and it seemed a bit more intense than it should have been to me. Peter's "I need to know that I can trust you" seemed like a very bold step considering how much Eli has done for Peter. One small transgression, and suddenly he's being called out like this? I get Peter wanting to make his authority clear, but theirs never seemed like a relationship that required that sort of tone.

I can't recall how I felt about Cumming and Ferrera's chemistry back in Season 2—I barely remember the specifics of Season 2, it feels so long ago—but I really responded to it here, which was important, considering that I don't remember it much from Season 2 and that the episode needed us to feel really invested in this story for it work after so much time. So small touches like Eli dashing down stairs, the bag of dried apricots, or Eli tossing out a delicious-looking sandwich for no apparent reason sold the awkwardness between the characters and helped to establish give-and-take between the two actors.

Sadly, Eli and Natalie weren't the only ones in a relationship who were struggling to find their footing in this episode, as Will and Isabel are still a thing, much to the annoyance of David "Looks like a jack-o-lantern" Lee. While I sort of enjoyed Isabel making everyone uncomfortable at the office, I don't think I've spent enough time with her and Will to see this as more than just a fun fling. That perception makes her concern about Alicia seem out-of-left-field, but then this is also the woman who may or may not have been joking about wanting to have Will's baby, so who the hell knows.



SIDEBAR

– Josh Charles directed this episode, and it felt very much like a normal episode of The Good Wife. The TV director's role is always a tricky one since you're often there to keep the show visually consistent than put in your own little flourishes, and Charles does that, but nothing in particular stood out to beyond keeping the show's style in tact. Did you pick up on anything noteworthy?

– "You taste like chocolate." "That's because I'm made of chocolate." ... ... ... ... Ugh.

– "But lying to you gave me a stomachache." So cute.

– "Your rules are right out of 1984. The book. Not the year." Cary, that was very cute, and I love you for it, but leave the smack talk to Alicia.

– Will, here's my advice for helping you with your re-branding efforts: Fire Howard.

– This episode was originally titled "The Next Month" and then it was "ICE, ICE Baby" and then it was back to "The Next Month." And this leads to a random question for you all: Have you picked up on the fact that so far, all of the Season 5 episode titles have been three words long? Should we read anything into this? Are all the answers we need located in Season 3?!


What'd you think of "The Next Month"?


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My theory about the three word thing is their goal is only seven seasons. 1 word in Season 1, 2 in Season 2, 3 in Season 3, 4 in Season 4, then back down--3 for Season 5, 2 for Season 6, and 1 for Season 7, presumably the last. Unless they go up and down forever. :)
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Loved Eli in that episode he's so cute as always when with Nathalie Florris
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You do realize the titles have the same number of words as the season. After 4, they're moving back down, so that's why...
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I loved the moment between Kalinda and Robyn at L.G. It was like a mother toughening up her daughter for the real world and then to actually see Robyn's new found motivation put to good use while channeling Kalinda's stern face. I'm still trying to figure out Marilyn's place and her eternal morning sickness. She seemed out of place still.
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Robyn was so kick-ass this episode, loving it!
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More Owen please!
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Bit of a flat episode for me.
And Robyn needs to get rid of that jacket - it made her look like a child ( so I couldn't take her seriously as an investigator )
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It was indeed a fairly procedural regular episode, but there were enough good things in it. Starting with Robyn's ordeal. I did enjoy Eli and Natalie's original story, so I was happy to see her again. It did look a little forced as a return to me, but I will forget about that very soon. I like Isabel, I'm surprised she still there, I didn't think she would get so many lines! She kind of makes sense in the current situation, all Yoko Ono LOL. And I don't hate Marilyn's pregnancy, like many of you seem to.

It is great to see Alicia imagining the future in the new office. I can personally relate to that situation. Everything is still undone, problems everywhere, no security whatsoever, but you can still see it happening!


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What I don't get, is how the hell can L/G suddenly afford to open offices in New York, and blah, blah, blah, when just a short time ago, they were on the verge of bankruptcy!! And, they lost 2 of their best lawyers in Alicia and Cary. Oh well, that's television I guess!!
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Eli and Natalie are amazing together, which is why I was looking forward to this episode. And they delivered, as did Robyn. The rest felt a little out of place but considering the previous episodes were so strong, I can't complain.
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Is it just me or Peter looked especially hot in this episode? I don't know, it's like Chris Noth was 10 years younger and ten times more attractive than he usually looks (and I find him very attractive!).

OK, the case... not very interesting, but I loved Cary and Alicia's running back and forth. This Natalie girl is kind of meh, I wasn't really bothered with her and Eli in this episode.Robyn rocked! Now I love her!
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What happened to last week's case? That was really interesting and I hoped that they would pick it up again this week. Also I wish Cary would get his own story arc, I really like the actor and sad to see to him so underused. After all he's way more interesting than Marilyn's morning sickness, Zack's Veronica Mars shenanigans and Grace's road to redemption
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You mean Will's murder case? I imagine it'll resurface sooner or later. Hunter Parrish was coy on Twitter as to whether or not he was returning, saying only "Stay tuned!", but I'm guessing he'll be back in the back.

CBS has also become oddly cagey with basic PR for the show recently. They didn't release press photos for last week's episode, and we're still waiting on PR for the upcoming episode, including an official press release. Such things are useful in determining when (possible) recurring guest actors, like Parrish, are slated to appear.
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Thanks for filling the blank, I guessed the show would probably pick it up again at some point but I was really looking forward to what I thought was going to be a 2-3 episode case story rather than the usual case of the week formula. Interesting to hear about the PR hopefully it's a reflection of internal problems in their PR department rather than the show!
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I doubt this is a show issue, and just something on the CBS PR end. Networks are weird.
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And of course the moment I left this comment, CBS posted the press releases for the next two episodes and lots of photos.
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back in the back half of the season, after the winter break.* Sorry about that.
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After the greatness of previous few episode, this one was kept alive and kicking with the introduction of one of my favorite guest star - America Ferrera. Unlike Noel, I remembered quite clearly her stint in season 2. I was thinking to myself no way it could work as both of them seems so different in terms of age and looks. However even then, they seems to have great chemistry and totally believable that they are into each other. This episode only improved on that as they seems totally missing each other. I give all the credit to the performance of both Ferrera and Cummings. Both were great!

The restaurant scene was really good. I felt very sad when I thought Eli was again "chickening" out of the dinner and hence the relationship. Then immediately my emotions were up again when he did enter the restaurant and they kissed !

Now I just hoped we will see more of Ferrera and Eli together this season !

I also loved it that Robyn is proving herself to be as good as batman. After being pushed to the wall, she came out with quite a few tricks.

I think this episode also did a reminder of what kind of lawyer Alicia is. It felt she really did cared for her client with her heart. It really meant to her more than just a job. I doubt anyone at L.G will care as much as her.

It is truly sad that after all that, if they really did lose to L.G.

Again it would be great if Ferrera came back with some businesses for Florrick-Agos !


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Ugh, "LG" rebranding, like there's not a famous technology manufacturer out there using that brand name, or like anybody would use a lawfirm named "LG". I get it, they're trying to show Will as going deep on this "take over the world while screwing hot bimbos" thing, but geez that bit stuck in my craw as just outside sanity.

I'm getting a tad sick of Lockhart Gardner defeating Florrick Agos where it counts, they ended up winning the battle for saving Tomas Y. at the last minute, but they lost the war of getting Natalie's big clients, it's just not realistic to get trounced so badly over and over, there have to be victories and losses.

The actual Ruiz case felt very much like a believable thing, paperwork setting a man up to die. Robyn pulled a lot of Kalinda-esque tricks out and I wonder if that'll bite the firm in the ass later, but ultimately it should have proved her worth.

Eli was great, that's all that needs to be said usually. Eli is generally great. I am still not feeling it with Marilyn though, her character is still so poorly defined and this pregnancy feels out to lunch, but it's not dragging on the show (yet).

I hadn't noticed that Josh Charles directed this one. It felt very competent and within the show's styling. The only thing I felt was off-note was Diane basically playing a background extra, and Sleaze E. Edelman wasn't given quite enough leash to explain that scene correctly.

Still love "ICE ICE Baby" as the title!
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That the Ruiz case felt believable says more about the nature and perception of the U.S. legal system than the episode, I think. ;)
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Did I miss something or perhaps i was being to positive. I thought Natalie's bosses have not decided especially after Howard yet another embarrassing fist pump, is that what you call it, the thing he do with his hands thinking all black people do that.

I love Melissa George but the character she plays is quite a b*tch. I assume there is some irony as she is in charge of ethics but constantly flirts with Peter and use her pregnancy to get what she wants. Only Eli called her out.

I didn't notice Josh directing this too which I think is good for the show.
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They didn't really call that out, from what I remember. There was the fist bump and then the shot ended, but we didn't really get a statement on whether that was a dealbreaker. Where Howard ruined it the first time around with his antics, that was because he was alone and nobody could brush off the moment, but here there was infinite possibility. They probably were going for a statement that it doomed it, now that you mention it, but I didn't catch that.

I just don't see much of a real character in Melissa George's Marilyn yet, a shell of a few ideas but not a real person, and that's frustrating to me.
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1. I'm afraid when Marilyn has a baby, she'll be carrying it around to manipulate people further and Peter will still find her doe-eyes irresistible.
2. I feel it's a bad branding move to change to name to one that's so well-known in a different area.
3. I agree the case didn't feel all that compelling, mostly it felt like a re-do of some episodes from the previous seasons.
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I feel like they've certainly done this sort of thing before, just not with immigration policy.
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There was an episode about immigration troubles (I think the first one with Natalie, too, and one with Alicia's neighbor in season one) and some episodes with running around courts: this one was like some sort of "best of."
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Good episode! I especially love Eli and Natalie, so adorable.

I agree with everyone about Marilyn and Isabel. I'm sure we are not supposed to like Isabel, but I get the feeling they're overdoing Marilyn's morning sickness just so we never forget that she's prego and not going to be in a relationship with Peter.
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It crossed my mind as well that her condition will clearly keep Peter at a distance.
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Howard was the funniest part of the episode lolzzzz all the way... U did not toch on the scene btween Marilyn and Peter, der was defiantly see chemistry. Lovly simple episode. I'll give it a 7.5
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Thank you! Finally, an interesting relationship has been added to the show to distract from the never ending Will-Alicia-Peter ridiculousness. It's a treat to see America Ferrera back, and not just because I loved her in Ugly Betty; she brings out a new fun side in Eli that gives room for future character development. Might I remind the writers that seeing characters other than Alicia and her lovers develop can be equally as important as moving the plot forward.
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My favourite parts of the episode were the ones revolving around Eli and Natalie. What a pair of cuties. Marilyn and Isabel are both really annoying but Howard was pretty funny in his casual racism. "I didn't ask her to clean my office!" The ending felt very much like the end of a scene rather than an episode. Was I the only one who got that feeling? (And it makes me laugh a great deal that the show runners don't seem to know where to put the opening credits anymore.)
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Noel, Will can't fire Howard; he's a partner. After what almost happened with Diane and what happened with Alicia, that should be clear. But since LG is expanding, they could open an office in Lima, Ohio and put Howard in charge of it. Better yet, open an office in Mystic Falls, Virginia. Howard won't last long there.

Love Robyn in this episode, and it's great to see her get to do more than isolated scenes and start to develop a goal/drive. I'm disappointed that that crazy face isn't directed at Kalinda as I expected, but I hope we get to see more of her where she's not smiling. I'd love to see her take on Anthony.

I realized in this episode that I don't even like Will any more. Sad, but there's nothing left there.
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OK episode, but get rid of Marilyn and Isabel ASAP. It is hard to know which is more annoying.
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It was an ok episode. The case of the week was good and had a fast pace but after all the excitement in the previous episodes, this was just ok and some of the themes felt a bit repetitive mainly Howard being inappropriate to Natalie and then to the lobbyist big guy (The world wholeheartedly agrees - fire him or at any rate remove him from "LG" premises).
I was pretty bored by Marilyn's pregnancy nausea / crackers and her manipulative moves in meetings...It's been done more effectively and funnily by Martha Plimpton as Patty Nyholm. This is repetitive and doesn't add much to Marilyn's character other than she is a ballbreaker enforcer of political correctness... Maybe send her to coach Howard on "ethical issues" as that would keep her busy enough to forget all about her pregnancy symptoms
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Good idea!
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Random question, but do you really pronounce apricots like that in America? Like app-ricots?
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It depends on the region of the U.S. Here in the south, I'm likely to hear some one say A-pricots.
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Yeah, "app-ricots" is generally how we say it on the west coast, but I've heard folks use both pronunciations.
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We also have two different pronunciations for pecans!
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AND I USE THEM BOTH!

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The writers said in an interview or on Twitter that they are purposefully "counting backward" with the number of words in the title, I think in part in the context of a 7 year plan.
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Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiintertesting.
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No, the other one: tedious. ;-)
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I'm not sure if its because of Josh Charles' direction, but the episode felt a little light. He tried for the visual consistency, but it was as if he was just aware of the weekly tropes - he didn't really go the whole distance or bring something new to them. So we had the judge quoting Bob Dylan to fulfil the quirky-judge-quota of the week, but that happened really late in the episode, and it was just that one time. The end scene with John Noble's music box and Alicia un-bubblewrapping the chair also seemed like something out of the TGW rulebook, but it was anchored to nothing earlier in the episode. The last few episodes had also tied the music/score very nicely to the scenes, even with a touch of humour: e.g., the waking-up scenes in 'The Next Day'. That was missing in this episode.

But the whole running around theme was fun: Alicia and Cary running in and out of courtrooms, Robyn running after her job, Eli and Natalie running into/away/toward each other, Will running to Isabel as a way of running away from Alicia? (Though we didn't really need that reference to Alicia and Will's relationship, yet again.)

But, Eli and Natalie - sooo adorable. I'd ship that.
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Eli and Natalie-too cute!

This Marilyn chick...I know that some women have awful pregnancies, but I really, really, really need to understand why this is being played up so much. Every time she gags, I feel the need to gag as well.

Way to go Robyn!!! Kalinda has some serious competition with which to contend.

And to address Will and Isabel-Will doesn't do long-term relationships. He's had nothing but flings. He's having fun. It's hard to imagine it going any further. So yes, good 'ol Jack-o-lantern Lee is likely correct, she's there to soothe the burn left by Alicia. I can't wait until she figures it out. She looks like she will be a hellraiser.
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It seems to me that Marilyn suddenly suffers from pregnancy-related distress every time she suffers some personal distress--using her discomfort as a defection has already gotten old.
Love Robin really becoming new Kalinda, Eli and Natalie and I personally loved Cary stepping up and making a point.
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*as a deflection
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He is having fun, and she's such the opposite of Alicia, that I get the sort of palate cleansing function of her; but I don't know what the story of her is beyond that. Or if she can even understand that that is what she is.
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Loved Robyn this episode. I agree that Kalinda probably would've gotten their faster, but loved seen Robyn get there eventually; it really fit into the theme of being a startup. Also thought it was sweet of Kalinda to impart that advice.

Ugh, I hate Will/Isabel's relationship so much (FTR not a Willicia shipper). But my god, the two of them are so smarmy and gross. Especially Isabel's super weird caricature of what I'm assuming to be boho-chic. Is it a requisite of TGW to have a gross relationship every season? Alan Cumming and America Ferrara were great.

Where is my precious Nathan Lane? I miss him :(
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Yes, bring back Clarke Hayden!
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